Details to consider before selecting a college for students with Learning Disabilities
- Does the school have experience working with students having similar disabilities, and if so, how many?
- What are the usual accommodations given to these students, including software tools or processes used?
- What is the retention rate of LD students?
- How long does it take LD students to complete their required courses?
- How involved is the LD resource staff in helping each student?
- What is the ratio of students with disabilities to LD specialists?
- What types of support does the institution offer faculty in terms of training in accommodating students with special needs?
- Is support in the program offered by interns, graduate students, peer tutors, or trained professionals?
- Ask for the learning disabilities specialist’s phone, email, and mailing address.
- If they have worked with several students with similar disabilities before, they are likely already facile at helping to acquire any necessary accommodations.
- How many students use your services?
- Will I have both an advisor in the Disabilities Services Office and a regular academic advisor? If both, how will the two advisors work with each other?
- What Assistive Technology (AT) services do you offer? Do you have an AT expert on staff?
- How many Disabilities Support counselors do you have on your staff? Do they act as liaisons?
- What accommodations do you offer? What are the procedures and timelines to receive them?
- Does the school have Kurzweil devices to scan books that can be listened to on a laptop?
- Will you connect me to students with disabilities to get their perspectives?
The main focus is to find out how responsive a college is to mental health issues. Most colleges have a separate counseling center called “CAPS,” Counseling and psychological services.
- Are walk-ins available, or are there waiting times for scheduling an initial evaluation?
- How soon can a student set up an individual therapy session?
- What are the center’s opening hours? (If it closes at 5 p.m. every day, what happens after hours?)
- Who provides the counseling sessions? A staff psychologist with a Ph.D. or a grad student intern?
- Once a student has reached the max number of on-campus sessions, what next?
- Are there any extra fees for therapy sessions?
- How is the CAPS center staffed? Does a psychiatrist head it? How many therapists are on staff? What are their credentials?
- If the CAPS center lacks a psychiatrist (and many do), must a student find a mental health provider off-campus to manage medications?
- Does the school have a 24-hour response line, a local hospital, or mental health center connection?
Some students need a break from school to recover and get back on track.
- Ask about the policy on medical leave at the disability resource center or the dean of students’ office.
- Are there peer counseling organizations or active chapters of mental health advocacy and support groups like Active Minds and NAMI on campus?
- Are programs provided on alcohol abuse, stress management, and healthy relationships?